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Obama: Cap On Gulf Oil Spill 'Good News'

BP's Skandi ROV2 feed, 16 July 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama is cautiously optimistic, now that an experimental cap has stopped oil from gushing from BP's ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico. President says the cap is a temporary solution.

President Obama says one way or another, the cap is a step in the right direction.

"The new cap is good news," said President Obama. "Either we will be able to use it to stop the flow, or we will be able to use it to capture almost all of the oil until the relief well is done. But we are not going to know for certain which approach makes sense until additional data is in."

The president told reporters Friday the cap and other devices are expected to capture as much as 80,000 barrels of oil a day, until a relief well is completed.

Crisis not over

He said despite the encouraging developments, the crisis is not over.

"Well, I think it is important that we do not get ahead of ourselves here," said Mr. Obama. "One of the problems with having this camera down there is that when the oil stops gushing, everybody feels like we are done, and we are not."

Mr. Obama said government and private experts met overnight to look at information from the well. He said they want to make sure that the new cap is not causing the oil to escape elsewhere.

BP stopped the oil from billowing into the Gulf on Thursday, for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

Work continues

The president said Friday work continues on relief wells, which would plug the broken well permanently.

"So far, it is actually slightly ahead of target," he said. "But the problem on the relief well is not simply drilling all the way down, it is also connecting it up, and that is a delicate operation that could take some time."

Mr. Obama said even when the well is permanently capped, much more work lies ahead to help the Gulf region's economy recover from the disaster.

"We have got an enormous amount of work to do, and people down in the Gulf, particularly businesses, are still suffering as a consequence of this disaster," said President Obama. "But we are making steady progress, and I think the American people should take some heart in the fact that we are making progress on this front."

Travel to Gulf region

The president said he expects to make another trip to the Gulf region in the next several weeks.

He spoke just before leaving for a family vacation in the Northeastern state of Maine. Republicans and other critics have blasted Mr. Obama for occasionally taking vacations and playing golf during the crisis. He said Friday he is in constant communication with those coordinating the repair efforts.

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